Immersive Learning At The Workplace With AR And VR: Pros And Cons

New tools, like immersive learning technologies, can help take your training program to the next level and engage a larger portion of your employees.

Out of all of the immersive learning experiences, we believe that the best way to truly engage learners is through extended reality (XR) technologies, like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). 

The use of XR technologies for training programs, specifically AR and VR, comes with the following pros and cons. 


  • High Knowledge Retention Rates
  • Powerful Metrics Help Determine ROI
  • Creates A Safe Learning Environment
  • Remote Access At Any Time


  • High Cost For Technology And Development
  • Software And Hardware Updates
  • Health And Safety Risks For Users
  • Technology Issues

What if you could place your employees in a simulated warehouse environment? Within this environment, learners can practice stacking pallets, learn from mistakes, and correct processes before stepping foot in their actual work environment. 

What once sounded impossible to do has now become a reality with immersive learning technologies like AR and VR. 

Let’s check out all that immersive learning technologies can do for your organization’s training! 

This article will first define immersive learning and its two most beneficial technologies, then discuss the pros and cons that come with its use in workplace training. 


How Can Immersive Learning Elevate Your Training Program? 

Immersive learning is the idea that employees learn best when they are deeply involved with well-crafted training content – whether it’s an eLearning with engaging interactions, a thoroughly written on-site guide, or realistic extended reality (XR) activities. Immersive learning holds the attention of learners and evokes critical thinking through engaging training material. 

Extended reality (XR) technologies, such as VR or AR, can take your training program to new heights and engage learners every step of the way through immersive learning experiences. XR uses artificial or simulated environments in which learners can control outcomes and connect them to real-life all from a safe environment.

AR and VR transform the world in front of learners in the following ways:

  • AR — AR adds digital elements to a live, real world view. With a mobile device or tablet, AR superimposes text, images, video, and 3D models into the world. AR has three different technologies: image recognition, plane detection, and object recognition
  • VR — VR consists of an artificial environment, typically created by a software or app, in which the learner is fully immersed in an experience that is altered from the real world. VR has two different technologies: 360° VR and full VR

Read More: AR vs. VR Training: How To Choose The Best Technology

Typically known for their use in the gaming industry, these technologies are increasing in popularity for educational and training purposes. 

By 2030, AR and VR will expand their use for immersive training with as many as 23 million jobs set to use the technology. Furthermore, the use of AR and VR in L&D will boost global GDP by $360.26 billion by 2030.


Pros Of AR And VR For Immersive Learning

The use of XR technologies at the workplace for L&D, like AR and VR, come with several benefits, including:


High Knowledge Retention Rates

The use of XR in training can significantly increase retention rates. For example, using VR for training results in a retention rate of up to 80% one year after training, compared to 20% just one week after traditional training. Given the immersive nature of XR programs, learners are more likely to not only retain more information, but also retain it for a longer period of time. 

Using immersive technologies creates exciting activities that keep employees engaged. Engaged employees have a higher retention rate, which results in a better return on investment from your training program.


Powerful Metrics Help Determine ROI

By investing in XR technology, you open your training program to new metrics and measurement capabilities. For example, with a robust VR program, you can measure valuable metrics including:

  • Real-time eye tracking
  • Head and body movements
  • Reaction time

These metrics give organizations access to a unique set of data that provide insight into the effectiveness and efficiency of their program. Training metrics verify that learners are actually learning and also help organizations pinpoint exactly where improvements to their program must be made.

In accessing and examining unique XR metrics, organizations can better address shortcomings in their training program, ensuring their program is effective and yields a strong ROI. 

Read More: Is Your Training Program Effective? 3 Critical Steps To Ensure Strong Training ROI


Creates A Safe Learning Environment

With XR, employees learn in a safe environment where they practice safety protocols, observe hazardous situations, and develop interpersonal skills without risking their safety or your company’s reputation. 

Organizations also benefit from this because they avoid the risk of damaging equipment, don’t need to occupy real-life equipment, and provide a widely accessible, interactive program to learners that is built to last.

For example, warehouse employees can complete a VR program that simulates a fire emergency. In this case, VR serves as a precautionary tool that prepares employees in the case of a real-life emergency situation. 

Another example is an AR program that places a life-sized version of a complex piece of data center equipment in front of the learner. With this simulated object, learners can study its parts, practice troubleshooting issues, and work to repair pieces that aren’t functioning properly all from an environment that eliminates the pressure of making expensive or dangerous mistakes.

These situations were once hard to prepare for, but VR and AR make it possible to recreate them and test learners’ decision-making skills. 


Remote Access At Any Time

A major benefit of using XR for your training program is that learners can access training from remote locations at any time. Virtual training programs help keep remote learners connected while still delivering a consistent training experience to everyone regardless of their location.

For example, imagine that your organization has recently hired new employees who need to be onboarded. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can’t bring them into the office, but what you can do is offer them an immersive VR activity. Throughout this activity, learners use a VR cardboard headset to walk throughout their simulated work environment, interact with equipment, and meet key personnel.  

Read More: How To Reboard Employees After Covid-19: 3 Recommended Steps To Take


Cons Of AR And VR For Immersive Learning

Although XR technologies create meaningful immersive learning experiences, they do come with downfalls. 


High Cost For Technology And Development

XR technologies are known for coming with high upfront development costs. For AR, these costs can range anywhere from $20,000 – $50,000, while VR costs range from $20,000 – $150,000 and more

These high costs can be intimidating, but the short and long term benefits these technologies bring to your program outweigh the initial costs. Additionally, there are other ways your organization can prepare for the cost of an XR program. 

Solution — AR and VR may come with high costs, but the long-term benefits of their use for training can actually save your organization money. For example, AR can reduce turnover by providing job previews and lessen the time needed for onboarding. VR can save your organization money by creating more consistent training experiences that reduce repeat visits for unsolved issues and speed up resolution times. 

The good news is that these training technologies have become more affordable options for organizations looking to reimagine their existing training program and save money.


Software And Hardware Updates

One of the many disadvantages of virtual reality training is that it may require occasional updates to hardware, software, and accessories to keep your program current. 

For most organizations, an immersive learning program comes with newer hardware, upgrade capabilities, and brand new accessories. While this is exciting to imagine, it also means that you may have to refresh your program to stay current.

Solution — A solution to this challenge is to partner with someone who will lead you down the right path related to equipment and an XRS. Meet Mercury XRS. Mercury XRS makes updating content easier with an efficient cloud-based system that can update software remotely, assign content to users, track metrics, and more. 

Read More: Is An XRS The Best Way To Update VR Content?


Health And Safety Risks For Users

Some people can experience physical side effects when using AR or VR. Common symptoms include headaches, nausea, and eyestrain. In addition to health-related side effects, these technologies also pose risks regarding physical safety, including running into dangerous objects in the surrounding area, colliding with people nearby, etc. 

Solution — One solution to health-related risks is keeping activities to the optimal length of 20 minutes and preparing alternative training formats, like an eLearning program. In addition to health-related risks, the solution for physical safety risks is to assign a spotter and ensure that the area surrounding the learner is clear and free of dangerous objects. 


Technology Issues

As with any of the latest technology, learners may experience difficulty when navigating different softwares or operating complex equipment. Not every learner is at the same level of technological fluency. 

For example, learners may not know how to slide their phone into their cardboard VR headset. Let’s say they do successfully place their phone inside their headset, but once they do, they don’t know how to navigate the training software. 

Additionally, there could be issues in the functioning of the software and hardware itself. For example, a learner’s VR headset might have display issues or glitch occasionally. 

Solution — Before your program is launched, you can prepare your learners for their immersive experience by providing them with how-to guides. These guides can brief learners on all they need to know regarding the operating and navigating of the software and hardware involved in their training program. 

Additionally, your organization should prepare for what to do in the event that the technology doesn’t work as planned. This is where a trusted learning partner and XRS can help. 


Immerse Your Learners In A One-Of-A-Kind Custom Training Program!

In this article, we’ve covered what immersive reality is, as well as the pros and cons that come with its use for workplace training. We hope you understand that although there are drawbacks to its use, the potential benefits this technology can bring to your training outweighs the cons. 

Ready to explore all that immersive reality can do for your organization? Get started designing your program today or check out our one-stop-shop for everything extended reality.